Djokovic Saves Match Point To Beat Alcaraz In Yet Another Epic In Cincinnati

Djokovic Saves Match Point To Beat Alcaraz In Yet Another Epic In Cincinnati

by Erik Virostko

Novak Djokovic defeated Carlos Alcaraz in the 2023 Cincinnati Masters final to add another ATP 1000 title to his collection.

The final match in Cincinnati was a highly-anticipated one, as it was a rematch of this year's Wimbledon final, which was shockingly won by the young Spaniard. Now, he had a chance to add yet another win against the experienced Serbian, but the Serbian proved to be better.

The start wasn't good from Alcaraz. Djokovic sprinted off the blocks quicker, earning a quick 4-2 lead. However, it's a week of comebacks for the 20-year-old, and he didn't miss a chance to complete another one in the final match.

Immediately after being broken, Alcaraz, who knew that he would stay the world no. 1 ahead of the US Open regardless of the outcome of the final match, broke back, and after a hold of serve, he leveled the score at 4-all.

It then seemed that the opening set would be decided in a tie-break, but the Spanish prodigy was against that. He created three break point chances in the eleventh game, breaking his opponent's serve and eventually winning the opening set 7-5.

It was super-hot in Cincinnati on Sunday, and Djokovic really felt the heat as he appeared to struggle with the temperatures. Alcaraz didn't wait around and took advantage of that, breaking to lead 2-1 in the second set.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion could re-break immediately after that, but he didn't use his one chance. Yet, Djokovic got another chance in the eighth game, and this time, he broke the world no. 1, levelling the score at 4-all.

For the first time since the early break in the set, the Serb also got into the lead when the scoreboard showed 5-4 in the second set of the match. And even though both players certainly wanted to finish the set earlier, it had to be eventually decided in a tie-break.

In the tie-break, it looked like Djokovic was about to take the match into the third set when he led 3-1 early on. But the highest-ranked player in the ATP Rankings was against that, staging another strong comeback and having a match point at 6-5 in the tie-break.

But the 36-year-old didn't win 23 Grand Slam titles just like that. And it was the second-set tie-break when he showed why he's one of the greatest tennis players to ever step on the tennis court. He turned the tie-break and the set around, winning it 9-7, taking the match into the third and deciding set, making sure that the match would become the third of their four clashes to go into the deciding set.

After losing the second set, the young Spaniard unleashed his frustration, slamming part of his chair with his right hand. But as Alcaraz did that, he seemingly injured his right hand, immediately calling the physio to tape his finger.

Prior to the final, the Murcia native dismissed any claims about being tired, and he had a chance to prove it in the third set of the final, on top of that, with a taped finger after unluckily injuring himself.

And indeed, the youngster wasn't just downplaying his tiredness, but in fact, he has been really fit. Despite that, he was the first player to face break points, but he saved them and stayed ahead in the decider.

As the clock approached the end of the third hour, Alcaraz certainly felt the pressure. Despite mysteriously saving four more break points in the seventh game of the third set, the fifth one in the seventh game, and seventh overall in the third set seemed to be one too many for the 20-year-old as Djokovic finally broke his serve to lead 4-3 in the deciding set.

Many would say that that's all that the Serb needed to win the match, but they wouldn't be right, not against Alcaraz. The Serb is a human too, and that was palpable when he was serving for the match in the tenth game of the third set, as he double-faulted on the match point, and couldn't use a total of four match points.

After the two-time Cincinnati Masters champion lost the one-break lead, another marathon game followed, and once again, the more experienced player just couldn't finish things off. The Serb had a total of eight chances to win either of the three games since being up 5-3, but he just couldn't, and suddenly, Alcaraz led 6-5.

The tie-break was inevitable, and after three hours and 38 minutes of play, it had to decide the match. Alcaraz started the tie-break with a double fault, and after a grueling 29-shot rally, the world no. 2 confirmed his mini-break.

But if someone thought that a 3-0 lead in the tie-break would be sufficient for Djokovic against the top seed, they were wrong. The Spaniard quickly equaled the score at 3-all as players changed sides.

But the Serb earned yet another mini-break, and this time, it was enough. After nearly four hours of play across three sets, Djokovic was able to push through and beat Alcaraz 5-7, 7-6(7), 7-6(4) to win the 2023 Cincinnati Masters, and increase his lead in the ATP Rankings ahead of his title defense at the 2023 US Open.


You may also like